PARIS — It felt like a final, not a quarterfinal, the two favorites in the Women’s World Cup playing for coronation, not simple advancement. The stadium was throbbing. Ticket sellers were asking thousands of dollars for a single seat. Pressure and anticipation seemed to bake like the heat that hovered near 90 degrees.
It seemed, too, as if more than a game were at stake when the United States faced France on Friday, perhaps a validation of the ascent of women’s soccer’s from acceptance to mainstream appeal. There was a hint, too, of possible tectonic shifting, of a displacement of the United States, the defending champion, as a dominant power amid a broad European upsurge.
Nobody seemed better prepared for the urgency of the moment than the American forward Megan Rapinoe, who scored twice as the United States defeated France, 2-1, before a capacity crowd of 45,595 at Parc des Princes. Rapinoe scored on a devilish free kick in the fifth minute, swooped onto a crossing pass for a second goal in the 65th and seemed invigorated — or at least not distracted in the slightest — after her midweek jousting with President Trump, who had criticized her for saying she would not visit the White House if the United States won its fourth World Cup.
“I don’t really get energized by haters or all that,” Rapinoe said. “I feel like there’s so many people that love me, so I’m like: ‘Yay, keep loving me. This is great!’ I’m more energized by that.”
If the Americans — the only non-European team among the eight quarterfinalists — are to be thwarted from winning the trophy again, and dislodged as the No. 1 team in the world, that now must wait until at least Tuesday, when they will play a semifinal match against England in Lyon. But England will have to contend with Rapinoe, who has scored five goals in five World Cup matches and has surged through this tournament with a freewheeling personality off the field and a merciless intent on it.
“It’s the knockout rounds,” Rapinoe said. “You don’t get past it without statement performances.”
On Friday night, from the kickoff, Rapinoe, who will be 34 next week, sent the American attack searing down the left wing as if on a sprint relay. In the fifth minute, she hurled the ball upfield on a quick throw-in and France’s stalwart central defender, Griedge Mbock Bathy, had to yank down the forward Alex Morgan as she raced in on goal.
Mbock Bathy was given a yellow card but the true punishment came a moment later, when Rapinoe sent a low, wicked free kick from about 22 yards that appeared to dip through the legs of both the American midfielder Julie Ertz and the French captain Amandine Henry before sailing past goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi, who did not have time to lift a hand to stop it. Rapinoe ran to the corner and theatrically spread her arms in celebration.
Staked to a lead, the United States defense remained compact and organized and cut out repeated French attacks for the first 80 minutes. The Americans were faster and more insistent to the ball, leaving their French opponents often disjointed in their passing and unnerved at times by the rapacious, physical play of their opponents.
The United States left back, Crystal Dunn, masterfully contained the speedy French forward Kadidiatou Diani. Ertz, Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara, Samantha Mewis and the goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher were indefatigable in their hustle and sturdy in their positioning and anticipation. Asked beforehand if Rapinoe’s contretemps with Mr. Trump would distract the American team, Coach Jill Ellis had answered emphatically that it would not, saying that her team “lives in pressure,” as if it were a garment.
In the 65th minute, after a turnover at midfield, the United States doubled its lead when it surged ahead again on a break. The forward Tobin Heath sent a crossing pass from the right toward Mewis, who let it roll to a charging and unmarked Rapinoe. She scored her second with unhurried precision and began shouting and pumping her arms.
The defender Ali Krieger, who had tweeted in support of Rapinoe after the president’s criticism, said that for Rapinoe to respond by taking “this team on her back,” showed that she was “one of the best players in the world and also just a great representation of what our country is all about — togetherness and fight and having that mentality of winning.”
But France also proved to be psychologically strong, and it created a frantic finish
In the 81st minute, France’s 6-foot-2 inch defender Wendie Renard slipped free of Rapinoe and the substitute midfielder Lindsey Horan to score on a header from six yards that Naeher had no chance to save. The American lead was halved, to 2-1. The United States got a break in the 85th minute when a shot hit O’Hara’s elbow in the penalty area but no penalty was called.
Rapinoe, who had seemed to use all the fuel in her tank, was replaced moments later. She had to watch the five minutes of added time from the bench, but the score did not change. At the end, the French were left devastated, some bent over, others with hands on hips or arms on heads, a few shedding tears of disbelief and disappointment.
They had played to large crowds and record television audiences for three weeks. This was to be the moment of arrival for women’s soccer in France, which had been banned as too masculinizing during World War II and not given approval again by the French soccer federation until 1970.
But France again left a major tournament with nothing to show for its efforts. It has never finished higher than fourth at the World Cup, the Olympics or the European championships. It has departed its last five major tournaments — two European championships, two World Cups and an Olympics — in the quarterfinals.
Losing at home, to the United States, with the whole world watching, will only make the sting sharper. The Americans merely moved on, forming into a circle and dancing as they moved on to the semifinals for the eighth time in eight Women’s World Cups.
“It’s such an honor to be her teammate,” Mewis said of Rapinoe, adding: “ A World Cup is about coming up big in big moments, and that’s what she’s doing.”
Andrew Keh and Elian Peltier contributed reporting. Andrew Das of The Times tracked the match as it happened. Read on to follow the game as it happened.
Follow the match as it happened:
Tweet! Tweet! Tweeeeeeeeeeeet! It’s all over!!!!
That’s the whistle, and it’s over. The United States is through, France is out, and wow, what a game that was.
Five minutes of added time. Can the U.S. hang on??
They are stalling when they can, blasting the ball long when they can’t stall. Tense moments here. France is about to go home, and they — and their fans — are doing everything in their power to avoid it.
The U.S. is expert at killing games, though. Not their first rodeo.
A hard tackle by Heath stops a France attack, and now Morgan is fouled trying to get around Bussaglia on the right. More time to waste. Almost there now … two minutes left … now one …
Last U.S. sub: Press on for Rapinoe.
Not sure how much Rapinoe had left, or how much more she could have done, but Press has been solid in this World Cup. No time for fancy stuff now, though; the U.S. is in complete protect mode now.
This game really has had the feel of a final. Shame it wasn’t one.
RENARD SCORES!!! And we have a ballgame. It’s 2-1.
That’s the fault of the earlier play, but picture perfect for France. The 6-foot-1 Renard, starting off between Rapinoe and Horan, runs untouched for a header and beats Naeher from close range. No chance for the goalkeeper now, but the last 10 minutes just got verrrrrry interesting.
Renard had scored twice on headers in France’s opening game, and at the time it appeared her forehead was going to be the most dangerous weapon in this World Cup. But France really hasn’t exploited her size advantage on set pieces effectively since that night — until now.
Carli Lloyd comes on for Mewis before play restarts. Odd choice given they have very different games, but Lloyd will bring grit and a hard head on all these set pieces France is winning. Plus, if the Americans are going to surrender this lead, it will have to be ripped from Lloyd’s hands.
Naeher tips Le Sommer’s shot over the bar. Wow.
She comes down screaming at her defense, which failed her badly there. Dunn never covered the player who crossed the ball on the right wing, and Le Sommer was able to stab the cross with her toe under pressure. It balloons high in the air but would have gone in if Naeher hadn’t jumped to push it over.
Heath closes it!!!! Nooooooo! Offside!
That was a gorgeous move by the U.S., with Dunn centering and Heath closing effortlessly in the center. But the flag is up, and so are Heath’s hands to her face.
The replay appeared to show Dunn was onside, but play had restarted, so there will be no V.A.R. on that one. That’s not how the system is supposed to work, but once the ball returns to play, it’s too late.
Open header for Gauvin!
Oh wait, that’s because she was two yards offside. Crisis averted for the U.S. back line.
The Americans are ceding possession willingly here, and France just can’t seem to figure out what to do with it. Maybe their game plan was to counterattack, maybe the pressure of the moment has gotten to them, but they seem out of solutions, and a five-player back line — with Mewis and Horan posted just in front of it — isn’t making it any easier.
GOOOALLLL!!!! Rapinoe with her second! 2-0!
That came against the run of play, obviously, but what. a. dagger. Morgan springs Heath after a turnover in midfield, and she beats the offside trap perfectly. Driving to the right side of the penalty area, she centers in the general direction of Mewis, who lets it roll on to Rapinoe closing in — unmarked in the sudden change of possession — from the left wing. She slots the ball home with precision, sprints to the corner and poses.
That’s her fifth goal of the World Cup, her second of the day, and the one that may have put the United States in the semifinals.
First sub for the U.S.: Horan for Lavelle
That’s a clearly defensive move. But the United States has really ceded the initiative here, and Horan offers a bit more of the grit they need at the moment. They have to blunt this resilient France right now.
France’s best chance yet!
Diani created that, winning a one-on-one duel with Dunn on the left. Her cross goes over Naeher on the back post, and she is slow to get to her feet as the ball falls — ominously for the U.S. — to the feet of Le Sommer just to the right of her goal. Le Sommer winds and fires a rocket — directly into the left-side netting.
The United States was very lucky there. They are even more lucky a moment later when Thiney springs Diani behind Dunn, but the defender covers the distance impeccably and slides in to knock the ball off Diani’s feet.
Ertz, if you haven’t noticed, is now playing as a third center back, between Sauerbrunn and Dahlkemper. This is what the United States did in the final 10 or 15 minutes again Spain, as they locked down a lead. But it seems a little early to be circling the wagons here, mostly because losing Ertz in midfield is leaving some gaps for France to exploit ahead of the back line.
Much better from France in the last five minutes.
France has turned up the pressure a bit, and the crowd has come to life. Le Sommer, Henry, Gauvin all looking a bit more dangerous, and the American defense — so solid in the first half — is suddenly looking a bit panicked. Sauerbrunn gave a ball away on a poor clearance, then so did Dunn. Sloppiness is not part of Ellis’s formula for protecting this lead, and her team needs to calm down a little here.
Ellis seems to notice this: she’s up stalking in the American technical area.
Two fast U.S. chances to start the second half.
Bouhaddi put to work almost immediately after halftime: a hard, low Mewis shot forces her to dive to her left to palm the ball away, but it goes directly to Heath. She controls and fires, and Bouhaddi, quickly to her feet, kicks it away at the near post. That’s a big scare right off the bat, and could have been a dagger.
She’s not out of trouble, though: the United States has won consecutive corners, and France can’t get out of its own end.
One last chance for the U.S. before the break.
Mewis ends up with the ball on the last push forward in the first half, and fires a shot at Bouhaddi from straight on that is easily saved. She had Morgan at the back post, and Rapinoe to her left, so that probably wasn’t the perfect decision. But the whistle blows, and the teams head for the locker room. Jill Ellis will have a hard time finding fault with that half. The United States had its first shot in the first minute and a goal after five. The defense has been impressive, too: no panic, just consistent positioning (Dunn excepted) and every stop they have needed to make.
France’s Diacre, meanwhile, has some work to do. France didn’t muster a shot on target in the first half.
It’s getting a little more physical.
O’Hara just dropped Majri like Draymond Green setting a pick, but avoids a yellow. That comes a minute after Morgan gets whistled for kicking Renard’s foot on a free ball. Renard goes down screaming, but Morgan isn’t having it.
“I didn’t touch her,” Morgan tells the Ukrainian referee, Kateryna Monzul. “She’s faking.”
Now it’s Lavelle who goes down, and on the ensuing free kick Renard just absolutely snowplows Sam Mewis to win a header. A few messages being sent suddenly.
France does not have a shot on goal yet.
At least, not one on goal. The United States keeps pressing France out wide and then collapsing on anyone when the ball is served back in — on free kicks, crosses, whatever. It sounds defensive, but effectively what they’re doing is forcing France to send in balls that the Americans think they can win. For the moment, they have been winning them, even if a few have come in with a bit more sting than others.
One small thing to watch, though: Dunn, the left back, has allowed herself to drift inside a few times, and that can be dangerous if she gives too much room out wide.
The U.S. is really working hard today.
It’s always the little things, the things that coaches drill into players that you notice. Every time France has possession in the U.S. end, the American midfielders — Ertz, Lavelle and Mewis — are collapsing at the top of the area, shutting down anything France tries to get going. That’s just hard work and positioning, and it’s not affecting their ability to get forward as soon as possession is won, but it makes you think the U.S. staff noticed that might be France’s engine room, its pivot point in attacks, and they are just smothering everyone who tries something there. It is forcing France outside, and allowing the midfielders to drop back a little more when the crosses come back in. Ertz has headed a few balls clear. Lavelle just did, too.
Rapinoe gets in again!
Two passes and Rapinoe is sprinting at a charging Bouhaddi, who comes alllll the way out of her area to slide-tackle the ball away.
Mewis goes down in the area a moment later as the play recycles, but it appears she dived. Lucky to avoid a yellow there.
But now we’re down in the U.S. end again. Frantic pace early. This is FUN.
A little ambition from France at last.
Diani gets around Dunn and whips in a cross, but it is headed on by Sauerbrunn. Majri controls and sends it back in, and France gets a header. But Naeher smothers. Nice little bit of fight from France. It will need more of that, and from Diani especially.
Rory Smith on the atmosphere inside Parc des Princes:
The circus has, finally, come to town. This may only be a quarterfinal — and it may, in the long run, have little or no impact on who ultimately wins the tournament — but it does, without question, feel like a substantially bigger occasion than that. The stands are full of tricolors and Stars and Stripes, the balance impressively even; there is a huge banner of Marianne, France’s national symbol, in the Parc des Princes, and the first beats of Seven Nation Army welcomed the teams.
This is the game that Megan Rapinoe — not alone, most likely — wanted: arguably the most anticipated in the history of the Women’s World Cup, between two teams who might both be able to make a case to be considered the best on the planet, and the favorite for the tournament.
Worries that the sapping heat that has enveloped France over the last week or so might ruin the occasion, draining the players, can probably be set aside: It is warm, but the edge has been blunted. France is the one team that might have something of a psychological edge over the Americans, the one team that seems to have its number. This is the chance to prove it.
GOOOOOOALLLLL!! Rapinoe! 1-0!
The absolutely perfect start for the United States. Rapinoe, taking the free kick won by Morgan, drives it at the near post, where a crowd of players blocks Bouhaddi’s view. The low cross screams in, nutmegs a jumping Ertz, and is past the goalkeeper before she has seen it. A blistering, dangerous set piece, and the Americans lead, 1-0.
You can blame Bouhaddi there a little, but that free kick was merciless, and she had to respect the runners at the near post. When no one touched it, the pace of it was just too much for her to react. Rapinoe now has four goals in the World Cup.
That’s the fifth game in a row where the United States has scored first, and in the first 15 minutes. For a team not lacking in confidence, and a French one that might be wondering if it was up to this, that start could be telling. Don’t expect the French to just roll up, not in front of this crowd. But their day just got a lot harder.
YELLOW for Mbock early. Big moment.
Rapinoe took a fast throw and sprung Morgan down the left. Mbock, beaten for pace, has no choice but to pull her down. Smart play, but she will be on a yellow for 86 minutes now. Not a great place to be for a center back who can expect to be under pressure quite a bit. Free kick for Rapinoe …
Ertz with the first shot and we’re off.
Not a great start for France, whose first touch is Henry driving a ball directly out of bounds. But Rapinoe gets deep with the first U.S. hint of possession, beats her defender, Torrent, and pushes across to Ertz, who fires a hard shot that Bouhaddi dives to save. Solid intent, but France is immediately coming back at the Americans. This is the pace we wanted to see.
Watch the pace early: It could be telling.
The United States has opened every game with its foot on the gas, pressing aggressively from the minute the ball rolls off the spot. (Unlike many teams, the U.S. rolls the ball forward at kickoff, not back.) That sense of urgency has paid off: The U.S. has scored in the first 15 minutes of all four of its games, and it will surely want to do the same today. An early goal might bring out any hidden doubts in France.
France, though, may want to do the same thing. Buoyed by a capacity crowd and the highest of stakes and expectations, the French would get a world of good from an early goal as well.
Heat or no heat — remember, you can’t play at full throttle for 90 minutes, or 120 — it just doesn’t feel like this is the day for some quiet early probing. These teams probably are going to come out swinging. At least, let’s hope so. More fun that way.
Today’s starting lineups are out. Horan is on the bench for the U.S.
United States starting lineup: Alyssa Naeher; Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Kelley O’Hara; Julie Ertz, Samantha Mewis, Rose Lavelle; Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath
France starting lineup: Sarah Bouhaddi; Marion Torrent, Griedge Mbock Bathy, Wendie Renard, Amel Majri; Elise Bussaglia, Gaëthane Thiney, Amandine Henry; Kadidiatou Diani, Valérie Gauvin, Eugénie Le Sommer.
Analysis: The biggest news in today’s lineups is that Lindsey Horan, the Americans’ French-trained midfielder, can’t find a place in the midfield. United States Coach Jill Ellis, a creature of habit, sticks with her three-person midfield of Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle. This is, in part, a problem of Ellis’s embarrassment of riches in midfield, and her steadfast devotion to a 4-3-3 formation. In that, there is simply no room for Ertz, Mewis and Horan. (Lavelle, a different kind of midfielder, a more creative type, was always going to claim one of the three places.) Does that mean Horan gets the day off? Probably not. With the heat, we may even see her earlier than when she appeared against Spain the other day. But it’s hard to argue against Ertz and Mewis (who has been phenomenal in France.)
For France, Corinne Diacre also sticks with the team that got her here. Keep an eye on Diani, who will probably try to test Crystal Dunn early and often on the right, and Le Sommer, a predatory finisher who always seems to appear right where she needs to be right when she needs to be there.
The Americans will try to take the game to France; they have scored in the first 15 minutes of every game at the World Cup, and doing so tonight will only increase the pressure on Diacre’s players. But the Americans’ hyperaggressive style has risks: France is good enough to counter quickly, and has the finishers to punish opponents who stray too far upfield.
Here come the Americans.
‘They are wired for this. They are built for this.’
Our preview of today’s match lays out a compelling case for each team to win today. A sampling:
Why the United States will win:
The French can take some confidence from their victory over the United States in a January friendly. But there is a big difference between an off-season exhibition match with several regulars missing and a World Cup quarterfinal with a veteran team purring like a finely tuned sports car. A team that can attack with as many as eight players at once when its fullbacks, Crystal Dunn and Kelley O’Hara, are fully engaged. A team that has, at last, seen its goalkeeper, Alyssa Naeher , tested in a big game. A team that can sense the world shifting, the European nations rising, and wants no part of being the American side that lets the program’s flag dip.
“What people tend to not realize is the U.S. team lives in pressure,” United States Coach Jill Ellis said. “When you’re young and you come into this program, there’s always a target on your back. So it’s almost a place where we live regularly.
“Yeah, this is a big game, and I think the players know that. But I also think it’s that expectation of being ready for this moment. We talk a lot about it. They are wired for this. They are built for this.”
Why France will win:
Sure, getting to the quarterfinals has not been a waltz for Coach Corinne Diacre and her team, and getting past the United States will not be any easier. But there are reasons, beyond a home crowd and a perceived destiny that France has to win a Women’s World Cup sometime, to think the hosts have a real chance on Friday. The center backs Wendie Renard and Griedge Mbock Bathy, teammates for club and country, are a formidable barrier to any attack, especially one led by (a possibly injured) Alex Morgan, who was battered by Spain in her last game. Kadidiatou Diani offers a dangerous threat on the wing, especially if France counters quickly against a United States team programmed to attack en masse, and Eugénie Le Sommer, Amandine Henry and Valérie Gauvin have shown themselves to be capable finishers.
“They are the reigning champions, they’ve got a great trophy case, we’ve still got a lot to prove,” Henry said Thursday. “But I think we’ve played very well over the past 18 months. We’re well aware of our abilities. We want to show that tomorrow. And I think that we can go toe to toe with this side — I think we can beat them. We’ve already shown that. We need to do that in this competition itself.”
Read the whole article here.
It is hot in France today. Verrrrrrry hot.
A heat wave stretching across Europe this week has killed several people and set off wildfires — including one in Spain sparked by manure that spontaneously combusted. Those conditions produced a record high temperature of nearly 112 degrees Fahrenheit in France on Thursday. Friday may be even hotter.
The good news for the teams is that Friday’s game at Parc des Princes in Paris will kick off at 9 p.m. local time, which is expected to moderate the worst of the weather slightly. But both sides are expecting brutal conditions.
France’s coach, Corinne Diacre, and captain, Amandine Henry, were asked about the high temperatures several times in their final news conference ahead of the match, but while both talked about the need to prepare differently and take on more fluids than usual, each dismissed the temperature as an overriding concern.
“We know that it’s very hot at the moment but you can’t moan about that,” Henry said. “It’s the same for both sides.”
Still, the heat could be an issue. The United States is the oldest team in the field, and it has had one fewer day of rest than France since the round of 16. United States Coach Jill Ellis raised some eyebrows during Monday’s game against Spain — just as the heat wave was starting to build — when she curiously (O.K., inexplicably) failed to insert a sub until after the 80th minute.
Ellis may not have that luxury on Friday but, fortunately for her, she has the deepest bench in the field to call upon if she wants some fresh legs.
Also at stake for France today: its Olympic future.
That France’s World Cup dreams hinge on today’s result against the United States goes without saying. But its hopes of playing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are in play as well.
Europe’s soccer confederation, UEFA, does not hold an Olympic qualifying tournament — the only one of the confederations that doesn’t — and instead just takes the top three finishers in the World Cup for Europe’s three spots in the Olympic field. Six European teams are still alive (England is already through), and the winners of Saturday’s two quarterfinals are guaranteed a place in the semifinals, too.
So if France loses today, it won’t be going to Japan next summer, making a possible defeat doubly crushing. FIFA explains the rules here.
Megan Rapinoe vs. President Trump: distraction or motivation?
It was difficult to avoid this week’s Megan Rapinoe-Donald Trump contretemps, but if you somehow missed it, here’s a Reader’s Digest summary:
At a photo shoot in January, Rapinoe told a writer that “we’re not going to the White House” after the World Cup (Times decorum requires me to drop the expletive she added before White House). The clip was posted online this week, and came to the attention of President Trump. On Wednesday, he directed a three-tweet blast at Rapinoe in which he chastised her for her refusal to go to the White House but warned her that she “should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag.” (Rapinoe, who briefly knelt for the anthem in 2016, joining a social-justice protest led by the former N.F.L. player Colin Kaepernick, now stands silently when it is played before matches.)
On Thursday, at a news conference in which Rapinoe stood by her remarks, she was asked if she worried her statement about going to the White House and the response from President Trump might be a distraction on the eve of the biggest game in the tournament thus far. Rapinoe dismissed the premise; in fact, she suggested her statements might serve as motivation.
“I’m not worried about destabilizing the dressing room,” Rapinoe said. “We have an incredibly strong dressing room. We’re very open with each other; obviously everyone knows who I am.
“But I didn’t make the comments at a news conference here. They were made months ago, and are just kind of resurfacing. So I think if anything, it just fires everybody up a little more.”
United States Coach Jill Ellis stood by her player.
“The personality of our players — I won’t say that’s the norm, but it’s kind of part of the makeup of the players,” she said. “They’re elite people that live on a stage and are always probably under scrutiny. But I think this team has a remarkable focus. We all support Megan; she knows that. We know we have each other’s back in there.”
“I think for our players, there’s only one purpose, one mission that we’re here,” she added. “Comments, media, whatever — it’s always been something that we could block out pretty easily.”
France is facing the United States, but also its history.
France entered the World Cup, alongside the United States, as one of the favorites to lift the trophy in Lyon next weekend. But to do so it will have to overcome its history of underachieving in big events.
Unlike the United States, France’s women are not a traditional power in world soccer. The country did not qualify for the World Cup until 2003, promptly missed the next one in 2007, and has reached the semifinals only once, in 2011. Germany knocked the French out in the quarterfinals four years ago in Canada, the same stage at which the team exited the 2016 Olympics and the last three European championships.
“We mustn’t let the pressure get to us,” France’s coach, Corinne Diacre, said Thursday. “We have had these defeats in quarterfinals that have been haunting us for a while — that might be the case again tomorrow night; we don’t know that — but I think above all we need to focus on the match. We still have some things to prove.
“We know we haven’t been perfect since the start of the competition. We are aware of that. However, we will be close to perfection tomorrow night. That’s what we’ve been working on, that’s what we’ve been discussing at length with the players, that’s what we’ve been working toward.”
“Talk is cheap,” she added. “But we have to go out there and prove that tomorrow night.”
While France is home to the best club team in the world, which employs the core of the national team, the country has never won a major international trophy.
That lack of success has hovered over the team for more than a year, even as it posted strong results in friendlies. After France’s men’s team won the World Cup in Russia last summer, the expectations grew that the women should do the same on home soil.
“Of course it hurts, going out in the last World Cup in the quarterfinals,” said Henry, France’s captain. “But I don’t like to look backward. We want to move forward, and that’s what we’re going to do.
”We’ve got motivation — which is positive pressure, if you will — because we are up against the reigning champions, the best team in the world. We want to write our own chapter in the history of the women’s game.”
Jeré Longman is a sports reporter and a best-selling author. He covers a variety of international sports, primarily Olympic ones. He has worked at The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Dallas Times Herald and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.
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